Ideas You Can Take to the Bank!: Effective Communication
5. Calculate your optimal number of contacts. Marketers have long wrestled with what now seems like a basic question: How many times can I mail someone without eliciting a response before I should consider not mailing to them ever again? The proliferation of communication channels, such as the Internet, has further complicated this question.
By analyzing your customer contact history, you can establish a baseline for how people respond and under what conditions. This information can be used to answer questions such as:
• Once I have identified my target audience, what is the optimal number and sequence of communications?
• How many times should I send a direct mail piece?
• How many e-mails?
• Who should receive both direct mail and e-mail?
• In what order should they receive them and how often?
• Test multiple purchase influences.
An evolution is occurring within the direct marketing industry that sees us moving from making decisions based on point-in-time events to decisions based on longitudinal data. The old saying—”never test more than one thing at a time”—has become myth. The disciplines of experimental design—in which multiple purchase influences, or “factors,” easily are tested at one time—are making their way from the agricultural, healthcare, manufacturing and physical sciences to the new direct marketing ecosystem.
Unlike in manufacturing, a marketer cannot control all facets of its process. It is impossible to think we can solve a contact strategy problem the way a manufacturer can design an experiment to identify what part of its process can be adjusted and result in a 5-percent incremental yield in production. However, the fundamentals of experimental design are applicable.
In the last five years, the character and shape of direct marketing has changed. As we accept the paradigm of interactive, or one-to-one marketing, we no longer can ignore the importance of synthesizing data from various sources within our database—not just transactions—to drive relevant and highly targeted contact strategies. In developing an “optimal” customer contact strategy, marketers will explore customer dimensions that traditionally have not been thought of as actionable. Using these dimensions to address the challenge of sending “the right offer, to the right person, through the right channel, at the right time” will become necessary as the direct marketing ecosystem continues to evolve.